Chapter

Address by the President of the United States of America1

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. Secretary's Department
Published Date:
October 1977
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Author(s)
Jimmy Carter

Mr. Colley, Mr. Witteveen, Mr. McNamara, and my own Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Blumenthal, distinguished visitors to our country from all over the world, I am very glad to welcome you to Washington, as you begin your Annual Meeting.

After being President for a few months, after dealing with the Congress, after facing many difficult questions, it is a great pleasure to meet with a group where there is an absence of disagreement, where complete harmony prevails, and where you have discovered the answers to all the difficult questions.

This meeting is important to all of us because the partnership that exists among nations and among people is so evident in this room. These meetings provide an opportunity for the leaders of the world’s financial institutions, both public and private, to consider the economic problems and also the economic opportunities that our nations share. And through the Bank and the Fund, we are able to meet the challenges to our shared well-being.

The two greatest challenges we face are to restore and to maintain steady, noninflationary expansion of the world economy and to increase the pace of growth in the developing nations of the world, with the benefits of the growth among us all more widely and equitably shared.

The health of the international economic system depends upon the health of our individual domestic economies. Just as none of us can prosper without a stable system, so the system will not be sound unless we act responsibly at home.

I am pleased that the U.S. economy is healthy and growing. Our rate of inflation, while still too high for our liking, about 6 per cent, is moderating and is below that, of course, in most other countries.

We will meet our economic growth targets for this year, about 6 per cent in real terms. And we will also maintain a vigorous and noninflationary growth next year.

I am committed to take such actions as are necessary as President to ensure that this optimistic prediction comes true. We will do so principally because it is good for our own country, but also because it contributes to the economic health of the rest of the world.

Our unemployment rate is steadily going down. We have very little doubt about this. And there is a sense of commitment in our country and a strength of our economic system. They bode us good for the future. Strong economic growth in the United States and a slowing pace of growth in other countries, combined with an excessive U.S. import of oil, have all led to a rise this year in the U.S. trade deficit, which has continued even through last month.

With respect to oil imports, I have proposed to the Congress—really for the first time in the history of our country—a comprehensive energy program which, in the years ahead, is designed to reduce our oil imports substantially below what they are now and to less than one half of the previous projections for the next eight years.

We know that it is critical that the Congress enact strong and effective energy measures. The United States must have a credible program to limit the growth of oil consumption and, therefore, to reduce oil imports.

I urge all nations, and especially the major industrial countries, to reduce energy waste along with us and to pursue economic growth and stabilization policies along with us, leading to an expanding, noninflationary world economy, growing international trade, and an improved pattern of world trade balances.

The International Monetary Fund has played already a vital role in keeping the international monetary system both flexible and effective. I am particularly grateful for the enlightened fiscal discipline which the Fund and the Bank encourage throughout the world with their loans. The present system is working well.

The United States has ratified the amendments to the Articles of Agreement of the IMF, and we hope other nations, other members will do the same so as to increase the Fund’s resources and strengthen its capacity for surveillance of exchange rate policies and the oversight of monetary agreements.

The new IMF supplementary financing facility adds an important element to the IMF capabilities. It has my country’s full support.

The United States will also join with others in working toward adequate increases in IMF quotas during the seventh special review of these quotas.

The United States remains firmly committed to policies that will promote freer and wider trade without the deleterious consequences of protectionism. My country joins others in pledging to seek substantive progress in the ongoing multinational trade negotiations by the end of this year.

Restoring health to the world economy will help us toward what we all recognize is a vital, human obligation—assisting poor countries in the task of human development. If the roughly one billion people who now live in extreme poverty are to have their chance, every nation must take more effective action and the United States is ready to join such an international campaign.

The study of world development issues now being undertaken by the Bank and the Fund should provide a framework in which all nations can expand our efforts toward common development efforts.

Of course, the developing countries are ultimately responsible for their own growth. Only they can mobilize the skills and the resources necessary for development. Only they can be sure that the benefits of growth, when and if it does come, extend throughout the country involved, to those who need it most.

But the industrialized countries like our own must provide more outside capital.

I am glad to report that the U.S. Congress has authorized more than twice as much money for the World Bank and the regional development banks this year as we did last year.

I hope that the negotiations for a major, general capital increase will permit the World Bank to increase the level of its lending in real terms.

All this will take time. Our goals will not be achieved overnight. Perseverance will be the key to success. There will be many difficulties to overcome, many complicated questions to answer, many national interests that might separate countries to be overwhelmed by a common commitment to mutual responsibility.

The United States wants to cooperate with all of you. We are prepared to stay the course, and you can depend upon us.

Delivered at the Second Joint Session, September 26, 1977.

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